I've been a member of AASECT for several years. If you haven't heard of AASECT, it stands for the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.
Every month, they produce an online magazine for members where they profile two AASECT members. I was one of the featured members for September, 2013.
Here is the interview as it currently appears
Each month we sit down (virtually) with AASECT members to find out about how they came to their work,
what their current passions are in the field of human sexuality, and what they love most about being a sexuality professional. If you are interested in being pro- filed in a future Contemporary Sexuality let us know!
It’s not every sex educator who can say, as Catherine Toyooka did when we asked her about her work, “I’m very interested in the areas of body image and genital shame, but of course I’m mostly known for my fellatio workshops.” But Catherine is not every sex educator. After graduating from Scripps College, she worked for a while in both criminal justice and HR. In 2002, she began a self-guided process of training to be a sex educator, starting with the well-known San Francisco Sex Information (SFSI) training. Since then she has traveled across the country giving workshops and lectures on a range of topics, and transitioning part of her work to sex coaching. She has been an AASECT member since 2008 and lives in Silicon Valley.
CS: When you meet someone new how do you describe what you do?
CT: It depends on whom I’m speaking to. For in- stance, my husband is an Engineering Manager, and if I’m meeting a colleague of his I might use the term “Dating Coach” as that service is something I offer with my business, Catherine Coaches. Most of the time, I say I’m a sexuality educator and (hands off) sex coach.
CS: It sounds like you had a few careers before coming to sex education. Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an educator.
CT: I wholeheartedly jumped into sexuality education in 2002. I researched what trainings were being offered in the San Francisco area, and actively sought out people doing sex education. I quickly learned the term for sex educator in SF was “outreach worker.” I attended a 2 week intensive workshop to become certified in the State of California as a CHOW (Community Health Outreach Work- er), became a HIV tester, graduated from the SFSI program, and other specific trainings to become a “peer advocate.” When I started the programs in August 2002, I was unemployed and never worked in this sector before. I paid for the trainings out of pocket and began working as an Outreach Worker in November 2002.
CS: It sounds like you have done, and still do, a lot of different kinds of sex education. Do you tend to work with the same populations again and again?
CT: When I first started as sex educator 10 years ago, I began at a small non-profit called Bay Area Young (BAY) Positives.
I served two demographics
- youth (under 27 years old) who were HIV positive or had an AIDS diagnosis — this is a specific demo- graphic referred to as “Prevention with Positives”
- and youth who did not know their HIV status.
Working in San Francisco, almost all of my clients identified as something other than heterosexual.
Between 2002 and 2008, I conducted sexuality workshops for high school and college youth about HIV/STI transmission. I also delivered workshops for other HIV positive care providers. Probably the most interesting workshop was for HIV positive people who were also active IV drug users.
My private sex coaching client base is mostly people who identify as heterosexual and are be-tween the ages of 30 and 50.
CS: What’s the biggest challenge you are struggling with right now professionally?
CT: One of the biggest challenges is beginning and growing my own business and wondering if I am making a difference or impact in the world. When I worked at the non-profit I could clearly see the impact I was having on people’s lives. It isn’t always obvious what type of impact I’m having with my coaching clients because we work on a limited basis.
CS: What do you love about your work?
CT: There are many things. Working for myself is pretty awesome in that my work can be done anywhere and usually at any time. I love having the freedom to speak at venues all over the country (speaking at Harvard ain’t a bad gig), and I truly love creating safe spaces where people can openly and honestly talk about sex and sexuality without the fear of being judged.